Every time a new technological concept appears, somebody, somewhere (probably Tech Crunch) tells us it heralds the coming of a new age. That there’s a revolution on the horizon and disruption is imminent.
Much of our understanding of technology is shaped by the media, by books, television, and film. We hold an almost morbid fascination for tech advances. With each potentially massive shift in what our computers or phones can do, there’s a flurry of anxiety – will these changes put us at risk; how will they impact the way we live; will they harm our wallets, relationships or privacy; are they helping us or putting us in danger?
Such questions are nothing new. Throughout history, technology has been intertwined with supernatural phenomena. Cameras were associated with spectral sightings, telephones with communication with the dead; during the 1980s, fear of the rise of personal computers was so strong in the US that they coined the term computerphobia.
Yet half of what was once science fiction is now real life. Technology is progressing at such a rate that even though we may be used to ‘ghost in the shell’ stories, we can’t help but sense the uncanny in some of its advances. And given more contemporary dystopian visions for our future now appear on screen (Black Mirror, Mr Robot) what’s happening IRL (cybercrime, big data breaches, DDoS hacks), it’s not that surprising that many of us have the jitters about what tech can do (or maybe able to do) in the future.
Therefore, we undertook some highly scientific research of our own (fine, we used Twitter) to figure out how and why some innovations make our skin crawl whilst other tech seems about as scary as a Tim Burton movie.